As some of you in the world beyond the internet already know, this season I've been suffering with an agonizing all-over skin irritation that has had me itching like crazy, plus my feet were painfully swollen and I constantly felt chilled to the bone, no matter how hot it was, and I found myself wearing a long-sleeved thermal shirt that was more suited to winter wear. Long story short, I was a mess and my legs got so itchy that I repeatedly scratched myself raw despite the effectiveness of certain over-the-counter drugs and early in the week of my birthday it became apparent that the irritated areas on my legs simply were not healing properly, so I scheduled the soonest appointment with my doctor that I could get, which was that Thursday afternoon, the day before my birthday. The doctor took one look at the weeping state of my legs and told me to head straight to the ER, which I did, and there I stayed for two solid days of multiple blood tests, antibiotic IV drips every six hours, rounds of meds, applications of caustic healing lotions, and even a biopsy that led to me getting my first-ever stitches. Fun it was not but I did what had to be done and I'm a lot better for it, though all the testing and biopsy results did not yield any explanation as to what triggered the itchy reaction. And me being cold was a case of anemia, brought on by the infection that followed all that scratching.
It was a crap-assed way to spend one's birthday but several of you texted me well-wishes or called, so I thank all of you, plus all of you who left messages for me on Facebook. Oh, and this is a shot of my legs just as I received a room and bed, perhaps less than an hour after having spent twelve hours in the ER among people who were waaaaaaaay worse off than me. (The crying and screaming was quite disturbing.)
Swollen, infected, and turning into Ben Grimm. Fun it was not.
Like I said, I had to apply strong prescription Ammonium Lactate cream and vaseline-like Clobetasol Propionate ointment to the most devastated areas, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't burn like a motherfucker. However the pain was worth the caustic agony, because in the space of less than 24 hours the weeping had ceased and the dead skin began sloughing off in corn flake-sized strips. And though I began to feel great rather swiftly, my doctor felt it was best to have me stick around for a while so I could be monitored and have my needs adjusted as needed. Thus it was that I turned 49 while laying on my ass in a bed at Park Slope's Methodist Hospital, reading a book on the history of horror movies. Oh, and it's a teaching hospital, so I had what seemed like an endless succession of interns and residents drawing blood fro me, so much so that my veins were too tapped-out to rise when IV's needed to be attached or more blood work was required. I had a couple of newbie interns practically destroy my hands and arms with their failed attempts at sticking me, but then I found myself in the care of a pretty and funny West Indian nurse who was nicknamed "The Vampire," because, as she herself put it, "If there's a vein, I will find it!" She was amazing.
So I missed celebrating my birthday in anything even resembling a fun way, but at least I was healing and the antibiotics were kicking hostile microbe ass. After two days I was released (though they tried to convince me to stay for one more day, purportedly because intravenous antibiotics were "more effective," though I suspect it was really more so they could have a cooperative guinea pig for the trainees) and I chronicled the healing of my legs.
As it stands right now, my legs are mostly back to normal, the systemic infection is done, and my feet are no longer swollen, so there you go.
And the one thing about my birthday that absolutely did not suck was an unexpected and much-needed gift from a dear old friend. She's a tech geek and she was appalled by the state of my old, falling apart, on-its-last-legs laptop, so she bought me a brand-new 13" MacBook Air with an external drive/disc burner. To describe my reaction as stunned would be a gross understatement, and her act of birthday sweetness went well above and beyond the call of duty. I won't forget it. And here's the aforementioned new unit. I named it "the Bride," after the mighty Paige Pumphrey-drawn sticker of a rockabilly Bride of Frankenstein that so perfectly compliments the Cramps logo sticker.
"The Bride," as seen from the screen and keyboard side...
And the front. I could not be happier!